One of the first agreements of the legislative session coalesced on Tuesday with a deal announced to bolster limousine safety.
What was initially termed a two-way Senate and Assembly deal was backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had supported the broad outlines of plan that includes requiring seat belts, the creation of a task force to study the issue, boosted penalties for illegal U-turns, and new commercial driver's licenses requirements for limo drivers.
“Limos are used for happy, joyous events, but too often lack of oversight in the industry has turned that joy into heartbreak and grief,” Speaker Carl Heastie said. “These regulations build on the work we did last year in the budget, and will hold the industry accountable, saving lives and making our roads safer for everyone.”
The Democratic-controlled state Senate was taking the 10-bill package up on Tuesday, as is the state Assembly.
"These comprehensive reforms will give authorities much-needed new powers to get dangerous vehicles off the road, weed out bad actors and put into place common sense safety standards that will increase public safety in every corner of New York, " Cuomo said. "This horrific crashes that sparked this action shook this state to its very core and we stand with those who lost loved ones in these accidents and worked tirelessly to help prevent future tragedies once and for all."
Lawmakers at the Capitol on Tuesday credited the advocacy of those who have lost family members in stretch limo crashes. An October 2018 stretch limousine crash in Schoharie killed 20 people, the deadliest transportation crash in a decade in the United States.
"Limousines and celebrations usually go hand-in-hand, and the Senate Democratic Majority wants to keep it that way," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "The crashes that have taken place because of unsafe limos and lax regulations are tragedies, and we have a responsibility to address this problem. The Senate Majority stands, and grieves, with the families who lost loved ones to limo crashes and who turned that suffering into activism."